Norwegian Air International may not be able to fly its proposed route from Cork to New York because the Irish airport's runway is too short, according to its group chief executive, Bjorn Kjos.
The carrier will begin flying from Ireland to the US east coast from July, including the first transatlantic service from Cork, which will serve TF Green Airport in Providence.
Norwegian is also considering a service to Stewart International in New York state from Cork next year, but Mr Kjos said the airline would have to see if it was possible to fly this route “because of the runway length”.
The length of Cork Airport's runway, 2,133m, means Norwegian cannot fill the Boeing 737 Max aircraft it intends using on the Providence route, to ensure the aircraft can take off.
However, because New York is further south, and thus a longer journey, Mr Kjos said that it may not be possible to complete it from Cork and that this would hinge on fuel consumption.
“We have to see the reality of the Max, because we are the first ones flying it,” he said. “It might be that it is better than they guarantee, and if it’s better than they guarantee, we might be able to do it. We have to find out when we start flying.”
He pointed out that aircraft manufacturers base their guarantees on prototypes and added that the aircraft added to fleets generally surpass those standards comfortably.
Mr Kjos is chief executive of Norwegian Air International's parent, Norwegian Air Shuttle. He was in Dublin for the industry gala ball organised by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), at which he received the award for his contribution to aviation.
Norwegian Air International is an Irish-registered airline which the parent intends intends using to fly low-cost, long-haul services between Europe, the US and Asia.
It fought a three-year battle to get permission to fly to the US, which it finally received last December. The company employs 85 people in Dublin and has 57 craft registered in the Republic. Overall it has 2,100 pilots and crew.The Irish office is responsible for safety – which the IAA regulates – marketing, finance and leasing.
Mr Kjos confirmed that Norwegian now has an agreement with Ryanair enabling them to transfer passengers between each other's flights. He said both airlines were working on a way of allowing their systems to communicate with each other. He was hopeful this would be done in weeks.
He did not rule out the possibility that Norwegian would begin flying from Dublin direct to the Far East. The airline has a base in Bangkok. As it would have to use the Boeing Dreamliner on this route, it could fly only from the capital's airport.
From next July, Norwegian will begin flying from Belfast, Cork, Dublin and Shannon to airports in the northeast US with access to Boston and New York.